Watching the program Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network has been torturous, featuring Southern-style restaurants I could only dream of one day trying — that is until I discovered Diablos BBQ.
Once I walked into what felt like a western movie, I knew this joint was worthy of its smokehouse title. Diablos BBQ welcomes you with swinging saloon doors and lures you in with the most wonderful barbecue aroma that fills your lungs and seduces your gut. The room is warm and inviting, filled with western memorabilia of wagon wheels, red velvet curtains, antique lanterns, recycled church pews, walls decorated with handguns and photos of confederate soldiers plus a lonely wooden armadillo you’ll most likely invite to join you during your meal.
“We just try and make it as authentic as possible, everything that we do, we want it to have a rustic, very authentic and nostalgic feel to it,” said co-owner Richard Escaravage.
Escaravage and his two partners, Jason and Raphaël , have been friends for 20 years before they decided to take a chance and introduce a little Southern love to our cold city. During a road trip two years ago with some friends, Escaravage and Jason headed to Texas where they fell in love with the culture and cuisine. Wondering why such an authentic smoky, spicy, and sweet flavour didn’t exist back home, they decided to take matters into their own hands and bring a taste of Texas back home with them.
Presented with the perfect location in the Latin Quarter and the opportunity to buy equipment, including a smoker all the way from Tennessee, Escaravage and Jason opened Diablos BBQ and invited Raphaël to join in on the fun. With no real culinary background, Jason travelled to New Orleans and Texas to learn from the locals and dived right in.
“We don’t take ourselves too seriously, we’re not reinventing the wheel. We’re taking comfort food to a whole new level and putting a twist on traditional barbecue and Southern dishes,” said Raphaël.
Drooling over the thought of anything smoked, sauced and battered, I couldn’t help myself from inviting friends to tag along and try as much as we could from the menu. We began our evening with the bite-size popcorn shrimp, their infamous fried pickles that were sliced, fried like chips and absolutely delicious and, to our humourous regret, the breaded jalapeno poppers stuffed with cream cheese. Although we were warned of their level of spiciness, our egos got the best us and led us to a torturous moment of sweat and tears.
Thankfully, Diablos BBQ offers an impressive cocktail menu to help cool off a heated tongue. From tweaked classic cocktails in mason jars, to margaritas served with an upside-down beer in a monster-size glass, to some of Escaravage’s homemade concoctions inspired by his travels, there is a drink for any taste.
Impressed with the starters, we had high expectations for the main dishes priced between $12.95 and $25.05. We were definitely not let down. The pulled pork sandwich was perfectly smoked and tender, served with a side of traditional coleslaw and the best corn bread I have ever had. The poutine was a combination of white and sweet potato fries and topped with smoked gravy, a signature dish. The star of the joint were the pork ribs, smoked with hickory wood and covered with their homemade barbecue sauce that was a perfect balance between saltiness and sweetness; we just couldn’t resists asking for some on the side for our fries and corn bread.
What threw me over the edge was their sixth deadly sin burger, a burger that won fourth place during Burger Week. It’s so special and exclusive it’s not even on the menu; it’s the kind of thing you just have to know about. One of Jason’s creations, the burger is an eight ounce triple A beef patty topped with provolone cheese, house-smoked bacon, smoked tomato ketchup and cucumber radish relish (all homemade, of course.) All that is then put into a grilled pretzel bun and flash fried. Are you drooling yet?
Always with the need to satisfy their customers and keep things interesting, Diablos BBQ offers seasonal food and cocktail menus and has recently included a hangover breakfast. I’m talking about waffles with a side of fried chicken.
The best part about Diablos BBQ (aside from its succulent menu) is the party ambiance and diverse clientele. From tattooed rockers, to students, to suits everyone is there to enjoy the food, chug the drinks, hum to the rockabilly music and party with the owners.
“This is a place where you know you could come and relax, eat, fill your gut and be amongst like-minded people,” said Raphaël. “On the weekends it’s a party. So if you scream and yell and have a good time, that’s what it’s about, and we’ll join in with you!”
Diablos BBQ is located at 1693A Saint-Denis St.